Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Sivan 5768 - June 12, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











EJF: Rabbonim Must Ensure Conversions Performed Only If Candidate Commits to Keep Mitzvas

By Yechiel Sever

Following a ruling by the Beis Din Hagodol in Jerusalem that effectively called into question the status of Israel's special conversion courts by invalidating an old conversion, Eternal Jewish Family held a gathering in Jerusalem for rabbonim and dayonim during the first week in June.

The gathering was opened by the chairman of EJF's rabbinical committee, Rav Leib Tropper, who spoke of the need to come together to discuss the issue at hand, saying the very act of coming together in large numbers helps bring salvation. He was followed by HaRav Shmuel Eliezer Stern, who conveyed the blessings of Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita: "This is a very important conference and we must stand firm in preventing foreign transplants from entering Kerem Beis Yisroel."

During the course of the conference the rabbonim discussed the publicity surrounding the beis din ruling on "conversions" performed by the Israeli authorities in cases where the conversion candidates have no connection to Judaism and their conversion is wholly invalid. This, in turn, can lead to assimilation since these so-called converts can present conversion certificates signed by rabbis and approved by the Chief Rabbinate allowing them to marry Jews when in fact they are still non-Jewish. At the conference the rabbonim cited a well-known letter written in 5744 (1984) and signed by gedolei Yisroel, who asked that their opinion be reiterated and made known to the public.

Participants at the conference included HaRav Yitzchok Sheiner, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Kamenitz, HaRav Shmuel Deutsch, one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Kol Torah, HaRav Shmuel Eliezer Stern, a dayan and moreh tzedek at the beis din of HaRav Shmuel Wosner and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chasam Sofer, HaRav Leib Tropper, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Kol Yaakov, HaRav Eliyohu Heischrek, a dayan at the beis din run by the Tel Aviv Rabbinate, HaRav Mordechai Shlomo Shteinmetz, rov of Chassidei Vishnitz in Har Nof, HaRav Moshe Havlin, rov of Kiryat Gat, HaRav Yosef Ben Porat, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ashrei HaIsh for baalei teshuvoh, HaRav Nachum Eisenstein, chairman of Vaad Haolami LeInyonei Giyur, HaRav Mordechai Kalmanovitz, head of marriage registration in Ashdod, and rabbinical advocate HaRav Tzvi Weinman, who presented various legal aspects related to conversion problems.

During the course of the gathering the rabbonim discussed the thousands of wholesale conversions performed every year in Eretz Yisroel, even though the "converts" have no genuine desire to keep Torah and mitzvas, which is bringing non-Jews into the fold under the cover of an apparent conversion.

The rabbonim also considered various ways to cope with this situation, such as reiterating calls to city rabbonim and marriage registrars to look into the Jewish status of individuals applying to marry. They also praised marriage registrars from certain cities who do their job faithfully, thoroughly evaluating every applicant. On the other hand they also noted that there are marriage registrars from other cities who continue to registrar applicants as Jews, even in highly questionable cases where the "convert" clearly never made any commitment to observant Jewish life, which renders the conversion totally invalid.

Though some marriage registrars claim that they are required to list as Jewish every applicant who presents a conversion certificate, the Chief Rabbinate has issued clear instructions that registrars have the right to refer any problematic conversion certificate to the district beis din or office of the Chief Rabbinate, for clarification.

According to HaRav Deutsch, "Everything must be done just as it says by Rus Hamoavioh, `And when [Naomi] saw she insisted on going with her' (Rus 1:18), where it was apparent she really wanted to go and wasn't just asking casually, therefore the gates couldn't be closed to her."

Rav Tropper said that in Israel in many cases where conversion candidates have no intention of keeping mitzvas, every effort should be made to prevent these so-called conversions. He also said EJF plans to contact converts who genuinely want to accept Torah and mitzvas but underwent previous conversions at the special conversion courts. Gedolei Yisroel have ruled that these converts must undergo giyur lechumro. He also mentioned the EJF Rabbinical Committee's instructions to undergo conversion only at regular, established botei din.

Other proposals were also raised at the gathering, such as a campaign to inform marriage registrars at local rabbinates about the importance of preventing non-Jews from entering Kerem Beis Yisroel.


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